Bay Area Baseball

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September 25, 2013
Bumgarner: 'A lot more stuff I can continue to get better at'

SAN FRANCISCO -- In his last start, Giants' left-hander Madison Bumgarner eclipsed the 200-inning mark for the third consecutive season. He also struck out 10 New York Mets to bring his season total to 199 -- where it will stay, after the Giants opted to shut down the 24-year-old left-hander and have Barry Zito start tonight instead.

"They told me it was kind of final and I could tell that, so didn't really try to argue too much," Bumgarner said today. "They're the boss, I'm working for them. So I'm just going to do what they say."

By whatever measure, Bumgarner was the Giants' most consistent starter in 2013, going 13-9 with a career-low 2.77 ERA. He allowed 146 hits in 201 ½ innings and posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio better than 3-to-1, issuing 62 walks alongside the 199 strikeouts.

That he did not match or exceed his total of 16 wins from last season was due in part to a convergence of tough luck and little support. Bumgarner made his first All-Star team with a 10-5 record at the break, but he went 3-4 in 12 second-half starts despite recording a 2.36 ERA.

Numbers aside, Bumgarner said he sees a lot of positives for him take from this season. Namely, he said, he did a better job of "not giving in as much to hitters" and "learning how to pitch guys ... how to approach different teams and different hitters." At the same time, he said, "there going to be a lot of stuff that I can still improve on."

"I haven't sat down and really started to think about it too much yet," he said. "But there's definitely a lot more stuff I can continue to get better at."

There's evidence to suggest that isn't just talk. Holding runners was a point of emphasis for Bumgarner in spring training this year after opponents converted 27 of 37 steal attempts off him in 2012. This year, he allowed eight steals on 15 attempts and had six pick-offs.

Now he's headed into an offseason that is coming much earlier than he's gotten used to over his first few full seasons with the Giants. Bumgarner summed up 2013, in which the Giants are still trying to avoid a last-place finish, as a "tough year."

"There were a lot of things that didn't go our way and just kind of stockpiled on us," he said. "We already know from 2011, but it shows you how hard it is to repeat after such a long year and being on such a high.

"It's a tough thing. You've got to continue to be good and play together, and at the same time have things go your way. You've got to have guys healthy. Too many things were going in the wrong direction for us."

Not wanting to risk another, the Giants decided they had seen enough from Bumgarner in 2013. He finishes one strikeout shy of becoming just the fifth Giants left-hander ever to record 200 in a season, with the idea being he'll have more opportunities down the road.

"It would've been nice, I guess, to have a 200-strikeout season," Bumgarner said. "But I'm not here for the personal success. I hadn't really thought about it one way or the other.

"The innings deal, you want to get out there and try to put up 200 innings. That means you're doing your job. And the other stuff kind of falls in with just doing what you can do to keep your team in the game and give them a chance to win.

"That's just where it happened to fall."

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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